It’s almost funny how many times the verb capire (to understand) was used in last week’s episode of Commissario Manara. It’s not really funny because it was about Iolanda Sorge’s tragic murder. But it’s an excellent example of how often capire is used in everyday speech. And since in casual conversation, this past participle can stand alone, it’s very handy and easy to use. It can fill up the time between one phrase and the next. It’s almost as common as “you know” in English.
As mentioned in previous lessons, capire is most often used in the past participle, capito, even when English would call for the present tense, as in the following example.
La gente si fida di me, capito?
People trust me, you understand?
Caption 12, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP12 - Le verità nascostePlay Caption
In the following example, the speaker is getting more specific (and angrier), and uses the verb with its subject and auxiliary verb.
Te [tu] mi usi per ricattarli, hai capito?
You're using me to blackmail them, you understand?
Caption 14, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP12 - Le verità nascostePlay Caption
Later on in the episode, Manara is in a meeting with his chief. Here, they use the present indicative of capire. In this case, we’re talking about understanding something or someone on a deeper level. It’s used transitively, and means something like, “Do you understand where I’m coming from?” or “Do you understand what I’m really trying to tell you?”
Ci sono i segreti di mezzo paese in quelle registrazioni,
There are secrets from half the town in those recordings,
you understand me?
La capisco perfettamente.
I understand you perfectly.
Captions 44-45, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP12 - Le verità nascostePlay Caption
When arguing with her husband, Iolanda could have used the second person indicative present tense capisci (do you understand), and it would have been correct and maybe equally as effective, but using the past participle of this verb is just how people usually talk.
In the following example, the speaker could have used va bene (all right) or even the loan word “OK” in place of capito.
Ma te non ti devi preoccupare, capito?
But you're not to worry, understand?
Caption 44, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfettoPlay Caption
But capito is a great and user-friendly alternative.
When listening to someone tell you something, instead of just nodding your head and saying sì sì (yes, yes), it’s very natural to say ho capito (literally, “I have understood/I understood,” or “I get it”). People will say it to you when you are speaking, even if they don’t quite get what you’re saying. It’s basically another way of saying “I’m listening.”
As you go through your day, try mentally using capire in its past participle to ask the question “do you get it?” (capito?) or to replace “you know?” (capito?), or to say, “I heard you, I’m listening” (ho capito).